[UK] ADVANCING OUR HEALTH: PREVENTION IN THE 2020s

What ideas should the government consider to raise funds for helping people stop smoking?

We believe that innovate harm-reducing alternatives can not only help people reduce harmful exposure, and even help them quit smoking regular tobacco, but also achieve that goal without the need for government funds. 

The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking. Public Health England has confirmed that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than conventional cigarettes. Therefore, consumers should be afforded the choice of vaping. 

We also do not believe that an aggressive approach to the matter will help with smoking cessation. Strict anti-tobacco measures have shown to be regressive, and tend to push and seal consumers in the black market for a long time. Smoking cessation is a difficult task, that can be achieved through harm reducing alternatives, such as e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn products, or snus (which is illegal in the European Union, except for Sweden). 

How can we do more to support mothers to breastfeed?

While breastfeeding is commendable, as it might advance the physical well-being of the child, it should be noted that not all mothers are able to provide the necessary quantity. This can lead to dehydration of the infant, leading to serious medical conditions. For those mothers, infant formula is a necessary alternative. We therefore support the continued zero-rating for VAT on baby milk.

Furthermore, the CCC supports the continuation of the Equality Act 2010, which allows mothers to breastfeed in all public places.

However, breastfeeding remains an individual choice of the mother, and can and should not be imposed. This is an intimate choice to be made by a mother, in which law-makers should not have a say.

How can we better support families with children aged 0 to 5 years to eat well?

It remains a continuous challenge to improve the nutrition of young children. This responsibility lies with the parents, you serve the function of caretakers and educators. In the age range of 0 to 5, this responsibility is most pronounced, and should be taken seriously. The Consumer Choice Center believes that parents have a moral obligation to inform themselves about healthy nutrition for their children. However, the reversal of the food pyramid has shown that institutionalised nutritional guidance can lead to adverse effects. The Harvard School of Public Health has pointed out that the food pyramid “conveyed the wrong dietary advice”. It also says: “With an overstuffed breadbasket as its base, the Food Guide Pyramid failed to show that whole wheat, brown rice, and other whole grains are healthier than refined grains.” The CCC is therefore sceptical about the idea of government-advised diets for children.

The obligation of parents to make informed choices about the nutrition of their children does not end at the age of 5. Quite on the contrary, as children get to the age of being able to be active in sports, they need to be encouraged to do so.

In October last year, Public Health England indicated that more than 37 percent of 10 and 11 year-olds in London are overweight or obese. It is often mistakenly argued, for this age, that this is caused by high energy intake, but the obesity rates are dependent on the physical activity, which according to Public Health England has decreased by 24 per cent since the 1960s. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade.

Furthermore, the government should look towards relieving regulatory measures that increase the price of healthy foods.

How else can we help people reach and stay at a healthier weight?

It is often mistakenly argued that the obesity crisis is caused by high energy intake, but the obesity rates are dependent on the physical activity, which according to Public Health England has decreased by 24 per cent since the 1960s. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade.

Physical activity is therefore paramount. Local government should foster and encourage the creation of outdoor fitness places, and facilitate the creation of interesting and safe public walkways, which can be used for physical exercise. The CCC also believes that community sports programmes should be a part of the government strategy on tackling obesity.

Have you got examples or ideas that would help people to do more strength and balance exercises?

Physical activity is paramount. Local government should foster and encourage the creation of outdoor fitness places, and facilitate the creation of interesting and safe public walkways, which can be used for physical exercise. The CCC also believes that community sports programmes should be a part of the government strategy on tackling obesity.

What are the top 3 things you’d like to see covered in a future strategy on sexual and reproductive health?

As of now, the UK applies a VAT rate of 5% on condoms. The Consumer Choice Center supports an exemption of these products from VAT. Condoms are not luxury sanitary products — they are essentially for advancing sexual and reproductive health, and guarantees the choice of consumers.

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